REVIEW: One Man Star Wars a Stellar Ride
Don’t you wish you could get paid for all those times you’ve acted out scenes from Star Wars with your friends?
Well, actor Charles Ross is doing just that.
A British Columbia boy with a strong background in the Canadian theatre scene, Ross is amongst the scores of talent that our nation is lucky to have, as well as being at least a bit enviable by other geeks with his One Man Star Wars show.
First created and performed in Toronto some 15 years prior, Ross brought his baby back to the stage for a limited run at the Bluma Appel Theatre from April 27 to May 1st. Considering the world is in throes of Star-Wars-mania at heights unheard of since the 70’s and 80’s, Ross certainly understands to strike when the iron – or in this case, lightsaber – is hot.
While academics and market researchers continue to scratch their heads as to why young people and non-theatergoers don’t seem to want to come out to live performance, Ross and his creative team simply get it: make art that is smart but still fun, and theatrical but not intimidating. It also helps to have Stormtroopers from the beloved 501st Legion hanging around the lobby to help direct people to their seats.
The 75 minute show consists of Ross on stage all by his lonesome, using his voice, physicality and some clever lighting design to invoke Lucasfilm’s whole universe of characters, sound effects and musical scores. Although a treasure trove of props and toys are currently available thanks to ebay and Disney’s aggressive merchandising campaigns, Ross forgoes the frills and gimmicks of prop comedy and relies on his own vocal and physical skill to tell the story of the Star Wars trilogy. The beauty of simplicity, in fact, helps keep the show fun and accessible. It may be inherently silly, but so is Star Wars.
Although it is a well-rehearsed show for which none of the enthusiasm is lost after it’s decade and a half of continual performance, sometimes that frenetic enthusiasm from its actor can be overwhelming and in contradiction to the original trilogy’s ponderous, hero’s-journey pace. Some character impersonations are more impressive than others – though Ross’ Yoda is lacking, he also nails the young Mark Hamill’s whining and the late Sir Alex Guinness’ dry wit.
One-Man Star Wars also has some pedigree behind it, with official approval from Lucasfilm including performances at the Celebration conventions, San Diego Comic Con and a sold-out run the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (which is, no biggie, the largest arts festival in the world). He is also the force behind other one-man reenactment/parody shows like One Man Lord of the Rings, with a Batman-inspired show also currently in development.
One Man Star Wars is laugh-out-loud slapstick combined with topical humour in a loving roast of the sci-fi epic, making for a unique and lovable theatrical experience. If you consider yourself a fan even a little, seeing this show should be on your bucket list.